Chad Johnson has zero home wins this season. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson to start against Lightning

BUFFALO – Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL’s top team, you figure the Sabres would start No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner, who has played 42 times this season.

But Lehner, fresh off Sunday’s 5-4 home loss to Colorado, will sit tonight for backup Chad Johnson.

Why start Johnson, who has just three wins and zero at home?... Read the full article

Jake McCabe (left) muscles past Boston’s Noel Acciari on Dec. 19. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Thumb surgery to sideline Sabres’ Jake McCabe weeks

BUFFALO – With Jake McCabe out three to four weeks after undergoing thumb surgery today and Rasmus Ristolainen struggling, the Sabres’ defense corps will look much different tonight against the New York Islanders.

Casey Nelson, a recent recall quickly earning coach Phil Housley’s trust, will play with Marco Scandella, Ristolainen’s partner much of the season on the No. 1 pair. Ristolainen, meanwhile, will move back and skate with Nathan Beaulieu.... Read the full article

Nathan Beaulieu has battled injuries and illnesses this season. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Nathan Beaulieu remaining confident through rough season

BUFFALO – Nathan Beaulieu has never experienced a season as difficult as this one. In less than four months, injuries and illnesses have already sidelined the Sabres defenseman four times.

“Mentally and physically, it’s both challenging, but you got to find positives,” Beaulieu said prior to Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers inside KeyBank Center. “I’d rather deal with it now than later on in my career.”

... Read the full article

New Jersey’s Taylor Hall is known for scoring, not hitting. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Kyle Okposo unhappy with Taylor Hall’s hit

BUFFALO – At the 5:31 mark of the third period in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, Taylor Hall knocked Sabres winger Kyle Okposo into the boards from behind.

While Okposo bounced right back up, the hit, which only earned Hall a two-minute boarding minor, was scary.

“That’s the play you’re trying to eliminate, right?” Okposo said Wednesday after the NHL fined Hall $5,000, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. “There’s ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford signed with New Jersey in August. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Drew Stafford adapting with age

BUFFALO – Evolve and adapt, Drew Stafford said. That’s why at 32, an age that often signals the end of an NHL career, the former Sabres winger is enjoying his 12th season.

“You have to or else, the way the game goes, guys are out of jobs or teams move on,” Stafford said Tuesday prior to the New Jersey Devils’ 3-1 win inside KeyBank Center. “There’s always a bunch of changing pieces.”

... Read the full article

Nick Baptiste scored his fourth NHL goal Thursday. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Ability to roll four lines buoying Sabres’ recent success

BUFFALO – A commitment to a 200-foot game, not his scoring prowess, helped winger Nick Baptiste earn another recall to the Sabres last week.

Baptiste, a third-year pro, has learned offense starts with strong defense. That was evident when Baptiste scored his fourth NHL goal in Thursday’s 4-0 win in Vancouver.

“It was a play where we made them turn the puck over,” Baptiste said this morning after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against ... Read the full article

Robin Lehner has often played well for a bad team. ©2018, Michline Veluvolu, Olean Times Herald

Goalie Robin Lehner frustrated by Sabres’ struggles

BUFFALO – After getting yanked for the third time in five starts, Sabres goalie Robin Lehner skated to the bench, sat down and … left his mask on.

It looked, well, a bit odd.

Lehner kept wearing the protection until the second period ended Saturday afternoon. When he sat down again for the final 20 minutes of an ugly 7-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, he had finally removed it.... Read the full article

The Sabres summoned Nick Baptiste once earlier this season. ©2018, Michline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

‘Developed’ game helps Sabres’ Nick Baptiste earn recall

BUFFALO – On a loaded Rochester Americans team enjoying its best season in more than a decade, winger Nick Baptiste has gotten a little lost in the mix.

Through 34 AHL appearances, Baptiste has compiled eight goals and 17 points, numbers that rank eighth and 10th on the Amerks, respectively. The former third-round pick scored 25 times in 59 contests last season.

So if Baptiste, 22, isn’t scoring at his regular pace – he has ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel has been one of the NHL’s hottest scorers. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Jack Eichel honored by All-Star Game selection

BUFFALO – Two years ago, the NHL revamped its traditional All-Star Game, transforming the stale affair into a slick three-on-three tournament featuring six divisional squads.

The league also added a $1 million incentive for the winning team, a prize center Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ lone All-Star, said “brings a little more energy to the event.”... Read the full article

Linus Ullmark has played 21 NHL games. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark to start; Zach Bogosian out 4 to 6 weeks

BUFFALO – Why not try something different, right? The reeling Sabres have lost five straight games and 33 of their 43 outings this season.

Starting goalie Linus Ullmark tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets is worth a try.

Sabres coach Phil Housley, who criticized his goaltending in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg, said Ullmark will receive his first NHL nod since last season’s finale.

... Read the full article